Having written a book, a short story, an article, or any number of writing projects can be a rewarding experience. But the writing process can be somewhat daunting. George Orwell said: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” That is a gloomy thought, but it can sometimes feel like that. At other times, when it seems that the words are just flowing to you as if from a higher power it is exhilarating. It makes you feel like you have found your purpose.
Do not assume that you have to be born a writer. Ernest Hemingway once said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
AN IDEA. You start with an idea. For the most part, it needs to be unique. It needs to be something that hadn’t been run into the ground by a thousand other authors. As a beginner, this is very important. A skilled author, such as Stephen King, could take a heavily used idea, or a mundane idea, and turn it into something exciting by the use of his characters. Most of us, however, could not do that.
Ideas are everywhere. Just look around. They are in the news, at the movies, in the magazines, at the grocery store, and on and on. Finding an idea is not the hard part. It’s honing it down and reshaping it so that it is unique. Do you think that Stephen King’s “Dome” is completely original? Robert R. McCammon’s book “Stinger” had a dome in it. Granted, other than that the two books are nothing alike, but it shows you that one spark of an old idea can lead you to something unique.
Ideas typically stay within the confines of the genre’ you’re writing in, though not always. Writing stories has become a rather fluid art. A western story would normally cover gunslingers, sheriffs, horses, cattle, bank robbers, trains, and other such things of the wild west in the 1800s and early 1900s. But not aliens. But then along comes “Cowboys and Aliens.” So, what are we to make of this?
For someone who is writing their first book, I would say to keep it close to what the genre’ you’re writing in stipulates. If you are writing a crime novel, try not to throw too many other genres’ in there. Making the main character a vampire from the future who decides to become a detective probably would not work. I am not saying that it’s impossible for a story like that to become a big hit. But it would take a very skilled author to pull it off.
THE STORY. Now that you have your idea you need to create the story around it. Suppose your idea is that a large meteor strikes the earth. Okay, it has been done a few times. But it can be made unique. I think to begin with you have to ask yourself the questions a good reporter asks. What, where, when, why, and, how? Now, all these questions don’t create the story. They merely serve as the framework. But it is something you should know even if it’s not necessary to put in the story. Next, you should plot the story. Write a very general idea of what happens in the story and a tentative ending. This gives you a direction to go in. If you are like most authors, however, the story will change as it progresses and the ending you chose may not happen the way you planned. That is okay. Sometimes the characters dictate how the story goes. For now, you need a direction to start.
CHARACTERS. They are the driving force of a good novel. Sometimes they can make up for a poor storyline. That is not to say you should not put forth an effort to make the story idea good. Every part of the story is important. Sometimes the characters just seem to stand taller. Stephen King has said: “I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”
A character needs to be alive. Alive in the sense that the reader can see this person in their mind. They often have met this type of person or have heard of them. This believable character can be created in several ways. Through dialogue: this can disclose a myriad of information about the character. Even without a physical description of the character, one can sometimes imagine what the character looks like. Even so, it is often best to give some description of the character as well.
STARTING THE STORY. For the relatively unknown author, I would suggest a fast start. You need to have some action in the first few pages, as well as something to snag the reader. There needs to be a reason for the reader to keep reading. Unless people are familiar with your work and are a fan of it, most will assume that the rest of the story is also slow, and maybe even boring. As a rule, people are not willing to give their time and attention to something that they are not sure of. T.S. Elliott said, “If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper.”
BE LOGICAL. It does not matter that the story is fiction. You must make your audience believe that what you are saying is possible even if the idea at first seems absurd. You can’t have a person suddenly flying around breaking the laws of physics. Unless you state a good reason for it. If a normal person gets caught in a rainstorm you would not expect the person to suddenly be able to fly. But what if he were struck by lightning in that same storm while carrying a briefcase of unknown chemicals. While on the surface it still seems impossible, but many readers will be thinking that there must be something in those chemicals to cause this anomaly.
Creating coincidences in your story is a rather delicate thing. You may get away with it once or twice, but you are taking a chance that your readers are going to give up on your story because it is no longer believable to them.
HAVING HOOKS. Try to end a chapter with a hook. That is something that will drive them into the next chapter. An example would be: A key is found. This leads to questions. Why is this key hidden behind a picture on the wall? What does this key open? Why is it important? This will entice the reader to go to the next chapter to find the answers to these questions.
I think it’s safe to say that all writers have writer’s block at one time or another. That doesn’t mean that the writer stops work though I’m sure some do. As for the self-published writer, there is always a need for marketing your work when the block sets in. For me – and I don’t think I’m alone – I always have more than one project going on at one time and other projects I’d like to start.
I can’t continue with partial projects, so I always find one to focus on and to finish. In those cases, I have to find a way to break my writers’ block. What I have found most useful is simply walking. I have a trail that I have made around my property. I turn some music on my phone and walk at a good pace. I like the exercise as well. I don’t force a solution to come to mind. I may go over my options, but my thoughts are not all-consuming. My mind is also on the music and walking. Somehow in this relaxed state ideas come to mind. This is not, however, a 100% money-back guarantee. Let me explain.
There are primarily two types of writers. One is the writer who knows the ending before he begins the story. Some have even suggested that you write the ending before you begin. That all seems logical. But that’s not how I do it. I fall into the second category.
The second type of writer starts a story not knowing exactly where they’re going. They rely on the plot and characters to take them to a satisfactory ending. This type of story has its problems, but it is what I like. What’s the fun in writing something when you already know the ending? Believe me, some of these characters take you in directions that you never thought of. I’m not unique in this category. Stephen King also writes his novels in this way. And, according to him, he has had problems with this type of writing as well. Mostly it’s ending up in a dead-end and realizing there is nowhere else to go.
Even when you know the ending of the story your composing, you’re not immune to writer’s block. Assuming you don’t know every step that you will be taking to get you to the end.
Sometimes you just have to push through writer’s block. Inspiration is great, but you can’t always rely on it. Don’t wait for it to happen. I have found that if I keep pushing even though I don’t feel like it, inspiration will often show up.
Final thought: writer’s block is only a temporary condition. Don’t let it stop you.
Like most authors my imagination is almost always on. I would think that many authors have already considered how this Coronavirus could be incorporated into a story. I’m sure it could serve as a background, if nothing else, for nearly all genres. I think about it myself on occasion but defer serious thought to a later time. Right now, my plate is full working on another book. Only a few weeks I published a sci/fi book titled “The Nexus”.
I don’t mean to take this virus lightly. It is wrecking the health of our country as well as our economy. It’s a little scary and depressing when it’s real life. But I do believe we will get through it though I imagine quite a few lives will be permanently changed. I hope that we can all, eventually, make life better than what it was.
I am somewhat used to being alone. Writing is not a group sport. Even so I do miss going out and eating at a nice restaurant, or seeing a movie, or going to an Atlanta Braves game once in a while. I shouldn’t complain though. I haven’t gotten the virus. That’s a good thing.
The book I’m working on now (changing the subject) is tentatively titled “The awakening”. It is also a science fiction novel and possibly a YA novel. The central characters are 18 and 19 but does that automatically make it a young adult novel? The thing is before I write a story, I don’t tell myself what genre I want to write in. I simply write what I’m feeling at the time and figure out the genre at a later date.
In some ways I envy the writers who know their endings before they begin a story. I do have a general idea but along the way I may turn off in a number of different directions. And, though I sometimes run into problems doing this it makes the story seem more real to me as if I’m living it at this moment in time. So, no, I’d rather keep going the way I am.
I have so much I want to do but writing is such a slow process. And then I have to make some time for promoting my products. Which I am not very good at.
I have come a long way since I first started self-publishing. My first books were averaging about 3.5 stars which included some ones and twos in my reviews. Within the last couple of years my average has gone up. My Christian book “The old man and the girl” has 4.3 stars and over a hundred reviews with Amazon and Goodreads combined. The Entity, a sci/fi, horror book (a newer release) has only 3 reviews but they are all 5 stars. The dark strain, which is also a newer book has only 1 review, which is on Goodreads. It is a 5-star review.
One more thing while I’m rambling. The Nexus ebook will be free on Amazon April 24, 25, and 26.
Okay, two more things. A good little video about writing can be seen here if you’re bored. https://www.gmmartinbooks.com/writer-quotes.html
Until next time.
In the last couple of months, I have published two books. “The dark strain” was the first book I published. It is the second book in the dark series. The first book being “The coming of dark”. The dark strain is the continuation of the life of one of the characters in the first book. The two books are connected but still have somewhat different stories so they can stand alone.
“The coming of dark” is more of a supernatural horror story while the second book is primarily the story of several seemingly unrelated people who suddenly gain powers. Unfortunately, their powers, and one unscrupulous scientist, may be the end of them.
The second book I recently published is titled “The Entity”. This is more of an occult horror. It is the biggest book I have published so far with over three hundred pages on Kindle. It involves several characters and a few unique situations.
I have one review of “The Entity”. Thankfully, it’s a five-star review. Debra M. says, “Touch of The Stand.” She said more but that part stuck with me. Prior to that I hadn’t thought about it. But I can see some similarities. Though I can’t seriously compare this book to “The Stand” it still feels good to be indirectly compared to a great author like Stephen King.
I have another book I’m trying to finish. I’m close but I can’t say how soon it will be ready for publication. It depends on what problems I run into. Like the song says “some days are diamonds and some days are stone.
As far as my personal reading I am almost finished reading “The Andromeda Evolution” by Daniel H. Wilson. It is a Michael Crichton book following The Andromeda Strain. I will give a review after I’m finished.
One coincidence about that book and my book “The dark strain” is the cover. There is a slight resemblance in the designs. The cover of “The Andromeda Evolution” includes hexagon shapes, mine are more looping.
Originally, I had someone make up a cover for me. It is the picture of a woman standing on broken ground. I didn’t like it. I soon made my own cover and took off the old cover. Unfortunately, with Goodreads I couldn’t do that. Goodreads will not allow one to change book covers. I was able to add an alternate cover which is the one I’m using now.
One small comment. The picture on the cover of “The dark strain” is the picture of a spiderweb. I took the picture from my front porch. There was a spider in it, but I deleted him, or her.
H. G. Wells, who is one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time was quoted as saying the following; “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
I think most writers can relate to that quote. Though writing can be fulfilling --especially after it is finished, and you have a few good reviews –it can also be a rather daunting task when you’re writing it. The story doesn’t always unfold the way we want it to and the right words sometimes elude us. But, luckily, there are also those times when the right words come to mind quicker than we can type them out. Those are the magical times.
There are a couple of things that make what Mr. Wells said so remarkable. One is the overwhelming amount of material that he put out in his lifetime, both fiction and non-fiction. Until I had read his biography, I didn’t know that he was such a prolific writer. To be honest I am only familiar with, “The time machine, The war of the worlds, The invisible man and The Island of Doctor Moreau.” Two, one should consider the time in that he lived. He didn’t have a computer to work with. There was no copy and paste or any of the other great things a processor can do. In fact, the manual typewriter had just come out a year after his birth. Which meant he had to either do his whole book in shorthand or work it out on the manual.
A few things about Mr. Wells. H. G. Wells was born Herbert George Wells in 1866 and died in 1946. In 1884 he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in South Kensington. His earliest specialist training was in biology.
Mr. Wells is best known for his science fiction novels. He is often called the father of science fiction along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.
His first novel was “The time machine.” If you haven’t read it or seen the movie(s) it is about a society that is divided into two classes. There were the subterranean workers – the morlocks, and the decadent Elei.
A few other novels were published in order.
(1895) The wonderful visit
(1896) The island of Doctor Moreau
(1897) The invisible man
(1898) The war of the worlds
(1899) When the sleeper wakes
(1901) The first men in the moon
There are numerous books and articles written by H. G. Wells both fiction and non-fiction. One website that I have found allows one to download the works of H. G. Wells for free. It is gutenberg.org. You might want to check it out and see what you think.
If you’d like to see more quotes and an awesome YouTube video, click Here.
And one more shameless plug. “The old man and the girl” ebook, an inspirational drama, is free on
Amazon October 18 & 19. US -- Here. UK -- Here
Just thought I’d put out another blog to let people know what I’m up to.
A few weeks ago I downloaded an app called Grammarly. People had informed me that there were quite a few grammar errors in my books. They were indeed right. Even though I would go through my books several times before publishing them I was still making mistakes here and there. This was keeping me from getting a higher star rating on Amazon. I have since corrected these books. Unfortunately, it can’t tell me if my plot makes sense or if the characters are real enough.
I’ve also gotten Mailchimp which helps me to gather emails so that I might eventually send out newsletters. I haven’t figured it all out yet but I’m learning.
I’ve just released a book titled “The dark Strain”. It is the second book in the “Dark” series. The first book was “The coming of dark’. The books are related but can be read separately since they have their own story.
“The dark Strain” is a supernatural story much like the superhero genre. In this story, however, they are not off stopping crime. They all have their problems and a deadly issue that they are not aware of.
I’ve had troubles with the cover of “The Dark Strain”. I’m on my second one. It just came out on Amazon. The first one I made was too simple. I had the second one made and unfortunately, I had trouble communicating what I wanted. After a couple of revisions, I selected one of the three copies sent to me. It’s not exactly what I wanted but it’s not bad. You can view it up in the corner so I’ll let you be the judge.
I hope to have another book out this month. I’m working on the editing now. This book has taken a while since it is about twice the size of the rest of my books.
I have plans for my middle-grade book as well. This book has just been sitting there. I’ve done no formal advertising of it and have rarely mentioned it. Soon, I hope to find an illustrator to make the book more appealing and then I can start putting some effort into advertising.
I’ve been toying with the idea of having a few hardback copies made of “The old man and the girl”. A little later I will look into the cost of doing that and if there is enough interest from others.
I’ve got a lot of partial stories that I would either like to finish or scrap. The problem with writing is that it takes such a long time. It takes me several months to write a book comparable to what I’m writing now. Then I’m faced with the possibility that no one will want to read it. Which brings me to something else.
Soon, I will be looking at finding three of four readers that will look at my work before it is published. They won’t be looking at grammar errors or anything like that. They will be looking at my plot. Does it make sense? Is it intriguing? What about the characters? Are they believable? Are they consistent in their actions? Can you relate to them? Does the book keep you interested? Does it drive you forward wanting to know more? And so on and so on.
Some might assume I’m sitting at home watching television while drinking margaritas but that’s not the case. I have an urgency to do as much as I can while I can. I can’t depend on living as long as Jimmy Carter.
I like science fiction especially when it pertains to the future. The Star Trek series is one of my favorites. I also enjoy the new series of ‘Lost In Space’. For the most part I agree with their depiction of the future. But there is one thing that really bugs me; the flashlights.
In ‘Star Trek Discovery’ a group of people beam over to a disabled ship to determine what has happened to it. There is no power to the ship so there are no overhead lights. A creature has killed all the inhabitants but one. It soon kills that one. It takes the crew a few minutes to find the creature in the dark because their flashlights only have one narrow beam. Similar scenes are repeated in all the ‘Star Trek’ spinoffs, ‘Lost in Space’ and in almost all the rest of the futuristic shows.
A 100-watt bulb puts out approximately 1600 lumens. As of this writing the world’s brightest flashlight can put out over 100,000 lumens. So why would anyone dare to explore space with such a weak light? It’s not realistic. I do, however, understand the reasoning of the writers. It’s a lot more suspenseful if you can’t see the dangers ahead of you. Or, to use a narrow beam of light to suddenly spotlight something unexpected. Even so it still grates on me.
In one of my stories I also have a protagonist using a regular flashlight to make the story more suspenseful. In this case it’s modern times and the protagonist had not anticipated having to use the flashlight as much. This was in the start of the book ‘The coming of dark’.
Speaking of ‘The coming of dark’, it is now listed on a site called Wiki.ezvid.com under 10 unsettling mysteries with a touch of the supernatural. To be frank I had never heard of the company until they contacted me. Checking them out on the internet I found that they are dominant on YouTube and other sites giving their reviews of multiple products. They seem reputable to me, but you can check them out for yourself.
Also, in a couple of months I hope to be publishing my second book of the coming of dark. It will be a continuation of the first one but in a little different direction. I haven’t decided on a title yet.
This is where you can find my book on the site Wiki
It’s a new year and I have a few goals for the year. Some are reasonable, some are not, but I will be giving it a good shot.
To start with I have new covers for two of my books. One is for a young adult book titled “The doorway trilogy.” It is a science fiction/ fantasy novel. The other book is “The coming of dark.” This book is a psychological, supernatural, thriller. A sequel to that book should be out in a few months. I will have a preview on my website in the next few days.
In the beginning I made my own covers or used Amazon’s cover creator, but they were either so so or didn’t convey what I wanted it to. So, most of the time -unless I get a lot better at designing book covers – I will be outsourcing that job.
Creating a better website is also a priority.
Advertising with little money is a skill I need to learn as well.
What I want most is creating great books that people love. I don’t expect to write “classics”. As Mark Twain said, “Classic – a book which people praise and don’t read.”
These are the new covers.
I am anxious for the new year to begin. God be willing I will be able to devote myself to the writing business full time. In the coming year I expect to have new books published and old books with new faces. But I’m not sitting back waiting on the new year to begin. I have been steadily working on several projects. One that I feel very good about is a sequel to my thriller “The coming of dark”. I’ve got a good start on it, but I’ve still got a little way to go. I hope to have the book out around April of next year. This book will explain a little more about Troy who was the main character in the first book. The coming of dark is currently unpublished but I hope to have it out with a new cover in the next few weeks.
I have several other book projects in the works. The range spans several genres which include ghost story, thriller, crime, science fiction and fantasy, and religious fiction. Currently I can’t say in what order these will be coming out. Writing is a fickle leader. On one I may end up stuck for a time. On another inspiration may hit me with a torrent of words that breathes life into my work.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how great my books are (though that’s a definite concern) if no one sees or hears about them. My connection to the social network is sorely lacking. I have to work on that. Along with that I need to advertise. There are tons of places to advertise. Finding the ones that will deliver the best results for my buck is the trick. Again, it’s something I need to work on. I’m not too fond of the business part but if I can’t make enough off my writing, I won’t be able to do it full time.
That’s it for now.
Merry Christmas and happy new year to all.
I consider myself a writer. Not the best, but I'm working on it.